As we are meteorologically speaking, now in the season of summer, let us look back at spring 2012. On reflection, do you feel it was a pleasant one, weather wise for the United Kingdom? As ever, courtesy of my Davis weather station, I can add some meat to the bones to my previous question.
Spring 2012 (March-May) was at its traditional best overall, although with a notable exception here and there. Look at the following plot for a closer view of Newbury, Berkshire’s Maximum Temperatures and Rainfall amounts.
NEWBURY SPRING SEASON TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL 2012
From the above, it becomes apparent that 2012 proved a mixed bag. Indeed, the local climate changed abruptly on occasions. Take for example, the March rainfall deficit of 29.2mm when compared to the 30-year local average of 50mm. All the talk in the media at this stage was of impending drought and hosepipe bans. However, as most will be aware, April changed all that. Some of this, at least at a local level dramatically changed with a huge surplus of 61mm by the end of the month. May then ended up drier than usual with a deficit of 14.3mm when compared to the local 30-year average. What about the temperatures I hear you ask!
For your information, the 30-year mean temperature averages (Oxford 1971-2000) are as follows. March normally returns 6.3c, April 8.1c and May 11.3c with regard to expected temperatures. Please bear in mind, the figures shown in the above plot only show our achieved maximum temperatures. When mentioning the aforementioned averages, the weather station automatically calculates these against mean minimums and maximums so I don’t have to do the mathematics. Using the plot above you can now analyse the 2012 spring season further with regard to its temperature.
March, with a very warm finish ended 1.6c above the mean. April abruptly turned the warmth to cold with a temperature return 0.8c below the mean. Finally, May 2012 warmed up, especially in the final third to return a local mean, 1.2c above the norm. I attach a final summary below confirming the above figures.
NEWBURY SPRING SEASON CLIMATOLOGICAL SUMMARY 2012
As for the effect on phenology, further news will be forthcoming.
Posted by: Tony William Powellon
No, you did not imagine it, it has been miserable for far too long so I haven't ventured out much. This is partly the reason for my lack of posts, alongside a busier working life. More news to come, honest!
Posted in news, Scientific, weather
Tagged April, climate, climate change, cool, England, environment, Environment Agency, Met Office, meteorology, naturestimeline, news, Rain, showers, spring, united kingdom, weather
Here are my latest offerings from my Phenological sightings.
I first witnessed a Pendunculate Oak (Quercus robur) in budburst on the 3rd April. This matches quite closely to last year’s date of 7th April but is well ahead of 2010′s date of 24th April. The average date on which this bud bursting happens is 14th April, based on a sample of 11 records. Another similar observation being European Larch (Larix decidua) seen leafing. Being the 6th April, it matches 2011′s date and is four days behind 2010. The average date for European Larch leafing comes out at 1st April. As to the reliability of the aforementioned sighting, it is often difficult to separate leafing from budburst, when it comes to European Larch. *However, my keen eye also allowed me to witness Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in budburst on the 8th April.* This particular event was very early when compared with other years. 2011 being the 24th April and in 2010 it was later still at 6th May. If compared to the average, Ash budburst normally takes place around the 23rd April, albeit based on only seven personal records. A final tree related offering, arrived in the form of European Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) budburst, which I observed for the first time on 9th April. This event ties in nicely against the average observation date, also of 9th April. Now on to some insect related phenomenon.
The 6th April saw a further two annual butterfly sightings with Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Orange-tip(Anthocharis cardamines) being seen. The Speckled Wood sighting tied in nicely with last year with the 8th April. The average date of first emergence returns the 15th April. As for the first Orange-tip sighting, this year’s emergence is remarkably consistent with last year’s date, the 7th April. Once again, the average date of first emergence returns a date very similar to that of the Speckled Wood in that it is 16th April. Both samples are very healthy at 16 and 18 years of data respectively. News on flowering plants and bird activity to follow. Interestingly, I have not to date, noted Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in flower which happens to be the food plant for the caterpillar of the Orange-tip butterfly.
Flowering Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) was to be in a very early state of emergence in the gloomy weather of yesterday (9th April). This particular event occurred on the 17th April last year and not until 9th May in 2010. I have noted the first emergence of flowering Wild Garlic on nine occasions and this year’s date is the earliest in that dataset. The more usual date for flowering Wild Garlic returns the 24th April. Now some birding activity at last.
Firstly, the birds are a-singing more and more each day now. Mind you, it is not just the singing, which is increasing, so too is the breeding activity. I am pleased to report that on the 5th April, I was fortunate enough to observe a Blackbird (Turdus merula) with food in its beak. The significance of this event of course being that it is most probably feeding young. If this is to be the case, this event is actually behind schedule with the 31st March being the more usual date, albeit based on a rather poor sample of garden records of 6 records. With Red Kites (Milvus milvus) appearing each day above our estate and a flyby Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) being recently added to the garden list, things ornithological wise are very good. Further news from a local woodland patch of mine were groups up 10 Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) seen feeding by other birders but personally, a new migrant arrival pleased me the most. The first returning Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) heard singing came about on the 8th April. This event closely matched last year with 6th April being the date and the average returns the 8th April too.
More next time.
Posted by: Tony William Powellon
EDIT: Apologies, the reference to Ash budburst was incorrect, this realated to an instance of Ash flowering. Subsequently there have been many more occurrences.
Posted in birding, birdsound, butterflies, Environmental, insects, my calendar, Nature's Calendar, news, phenology
Tagged April, Ash, Birding, birds, British Wildlife, budburst, butterflies, butterfly, Citizen science, climate, climate change, environment, Hawfinch, Insects, Larch, leafing, nature, Nesting Birds, Oak, Observation, Observing, Orange-tip, Ornithology, phenology, plants, research, science, seasons, Speckled Wood, spring, Sycamore, trees, united kingdom, weather, Willow Warbler
I have recently updated my natural events calendar to reflect all the activity since Mid March. So where are we now?
Unseasonably warm temperatures and a continuing drought have dominated the UK weather headlines from the past couple of weeks. The drought area recently increased in size to cover a larger area of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, snow and rain is imminent and as I type this, it is affecting large parts of Northern England and Scotland. Here is further news, which illustrates the impressive climatic differences between late March and early April. So what of the phenology?
Being an interested observer of natures ways, I have managed to add a further sixteen events since my last post on phenology related matters. Rather than go into the specifics of each one, it is possible to see these events by looking at the aforementioned calendar. However, I will also provide some evidence below.
9 events were insect themed with a further 6 differing butterfly species witnessed on the wing, either locally or further afield. The non-butterfly event was a local Red-tailed Bumblebee, the subspecies of which was unknown.
A further 3 events were three differing tree species in bud or full leaf. These again all coming from my home area.
2 bird related activities were a nest-building Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and a brand new migrant for the list, a Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) seen on a local trip to the nearby downs.
Finally 2 final phenological highlights arrived in the form of flowering Cowslips (Primula veris) and Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta).
Spring is most certainly springing into action and for a little more detail of my sightings; you should look no further than at the attached.
PHENOLOGY UPDATE NATURESTIMELINE
When you analyse the data more precisely you will see of these latest sightings the following becomes apparent. 8 events are earlier than 2011, 5 are either later or on the same date and 3 were unobserved last year. However, an entirely different pattern becomes apparent, when compared to the long-term averages. There is an amazing tally of 12 of the 16 phenological indicators being ahead of the long-term averages. So it does seem on albeit early evidence, that 2012 is so far hinting at another dose of climatic shift for the natural world. What will the weather do next I wonder?
Posted by: Tony William Powellon
Posted in birding, butterflies, Environmental, insects, my calendar, netweather, news, phenology, weather
Tagged April, Birding, birds, budburst, Bumblebee, butterflies, butterfly, Citizen science, climate, climate change, Drought, Insects, leafing, madness, March, nature, Northern England, Observation, Observing, phenology, research, science, Scotland, seasons, spring, trees, united kingdom, weather
Having previously mentioned here, my passion for tracking Europe’s returning African visitors, I recently attempted an analysis of the latest data from the Gibraltar region. To do this, I reviewed a spreadsheet, set up in previous years that use the First dates of migrant bird sightings, sourced from Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society. Having gone through my seven randomly chosen bird species’ arrival dates (on return from Africa), they were to reveal some intriguing trends.
Below you can see a link to a copy of the above-mentioned spreadsheet.
What does this data tell you? To me it hints at a good pattern match to 2010, when looking at the First known sightings of the seven listed bird species. Later, I will refer to the actual climate of two years ago. Meanwhile, a question arises. When looking at these bird arrival statistics, is it possible to predict the future climate for the United Kingdom, i.e. what will spring and summer weather be like? Currently, the latest news from Gibraltar indicated a relaxation of the High Pressure areas that have largely plagued that part of Europe since last autumn. Furthermore, it is a fact that Low Pressure systems with their associated weather fronts can move the migrant birds on mass, which sometimes result in bird falls (exceptionally large numbers). What effect if any, will this have on the United Kingdom, being that it is still under the firm grip of High Pressure and has been for several weeks now?
Has the current atmospheric situation resulted in a lack of bird movement? Oh, no! With quite a few spring overshoots such as Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Hoopoes (Upupa epops) already in, you can add to the mix the more usual Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus), Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus), Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) and Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla)*. Is it possible we could be having an early migration season this year?
2010′s weather for the UK, based on my local data proved a dry and rather warm spring (March through May) and cool wet end to summer (June through August). The official data from the Met Office shown here – Spring 2010 and Summer 2010 roughly correlated to mine.
Newbury 2010 climate
As you can see from the above, spring came early, as did autumn in 2010. Watch this space for further news of any resemblance with that particular year.
*as ever, Thanks to Birdguides
Posted by: Tony William Powellon
Posted in birding, phenology, weather
Tagged Africa, Autumn, Bird migration, Bird news, Birdguides, Birding, birds, Blackcap, Citizen science, climate, climate change, Cuckoo, Europe, Gibraltar, Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society, Hoopoe, Met Office, migrants, migration, Night Heron, Northern Wheatear, Ornithology, phenology, research, seasons, spring, summer, weather, Willow Warbler
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Some belated highlights of mine were further Brimstone Butterflies seen on the wing during the sunnier days. On the local downs, some gatherings of Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) hereby shown courtesy of Finn Holding’s thenaturephile. In addition, a couple of sightings of Grey Partridges (Perdix perdix) being very special as both of the aforementioned iconic bird species were frequenting potential breeding areas. Whilst undertaking my March WEBS survey, I also saw the amazing structure that is a Long-tailed Tit’s (Aegithalos caudatus) nest being built. You can see a typical Long-tailed Tit’s nest illustrated here. Woodland Snowdrops which were mentioned in a previous post of mine, are generally going over now but new plant and tree life is on its way. I will elaborate further on this, below.
As of 15th March, I observed my first Wood Anemones (Anemone_nemorosa) in flower. Intriguingly, the first instances of Wood Anemones were on this exact date last year. In 2010 they were a full two weeks later. The flowering Wood Anemones returns an average date of 14th March, based on a strong sample of 16 records. Of the trees, showing signs of springing to life on my countryside patrol were the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus_hippocastanum). One particular Horse Chestnut was in budburst and the more usual date for this to occur is the 21st March, based on 13 records. There have been reports of Ashes (Fraxinus), Oaks (Quercus) and other specimens of trees and shrubs being further forward than is normal for the time of year. Therefore, it does seem that many trees will unfortunately be budding earlier this year adding further stress to nature’s imbalance.
That is about all the news from me as the phenological year continues unabated.
naturestimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell
Posted in butterflies, Environmental, insects, my calendar, Nature's Calendar, news, phenology, Scientific, Uncategorized
Tagged Ash, Birding, birds, British Wildlife, budburst, buds, butterflies, butterfly, Citizen science, climate, climate change, environment, flowers, Grey Partridge, habitat, Insects, Long-tailed Tit, Nesting Birds, news, Northern Lapwing, Oak, phenology, plants, research, seasons, spring, trees, united kingdom, Wood Anemone, woodland, Woodland Snowdrop
As per recent years, some of our bird species are well into their nesting routines even before the spring equinox. The link shown below illustrates this situation well. The information source is from the British Trust for Ornithology and comes courtesy of Birdguides.
Posted in birding, new research, news, phenology, Scientific
Tagged Birdguides, Birding, birds, Breeding Birds, British Trust for Ornithology, nature, Nesting Birds, Ornithology, phenology, seasons, spring
Posted in news, phenology, Scientific
Tagged budburst, budding, leafing, phenology, research, science, seasons, shrubs, spring, trees
Do you remember this?
The effect this upcoming spell of weather will have on Phenology events will be most interesting. Some potentially record-breaking Temperatures could occur in the South of the United Kingdom. Given some sunshine, Bees, Butterflies and Blooms will be the most likely candidates, alongside the early migrant birds brought in by the Southwesterly flow.
As ever when sticking your head above the proverbial parapet, certain things can go awry. However, did any the above happen? Nature as ever, is NOT standing still and I hereby make no apologies for the length of this post.
The 20th February saw the emergence of Seven-spot Ladybirds (Coccinella 7-punctata) and the usual date of occurrence for this bug is now 8th March, albeit based on only 6 records in my dataset.
Come the 23rd February, the Temperatures soared as anticipated and many more events came to the fore. This date saw the emergence of the first Bumblebee in my garden, most probably a queen of the Bombus terrestris variety. The rolling average date for this, based on a sample of 16 records, actually returns this very date. Remarkably earlier than usual however was the queen Wasp, given my 14 records now indicate a date of 5th April. The 23rd February also brought about the appearance of a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) which was ahead of schedule by some five to six weeks, the usual date being around the 30th March, based on 15 individual records.
The 24th February provided evidence of first locally flowering Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and this is on record 14 times with a normally flowering date of 6th March. Also in evidence were nest-building Blackbirds (Turdus merula). The 6th March being normal for this event, based on my 15 records sample.
The 25th February proved a date for a First lawn cut which normally returns a date of 13th March based on 6 records. An enlightening observation was of a nest-building Robin (Erithacus rubecula). With weak evidence of this phenomenon, I only possess 4 records with an average date of 25th March. The same day (25th February) produced another wonderful event of a singing Woodlark (Lullula arborea). I have 9 records of this phenomenon, which tends to happen for the first time around the 7th March.
This concludes a busy period of observation and with the United Kingdom’s weather remaining mild; you can safely predict more Phenology events to be forthcoming.
Posted in birding, bugs, butterflies, insects, my calendar, Nature's Calendar, phenology, weather
Tagged Bees, birds, Blackbird, Bumblebee, butterflies, Citizen science, climate change, Observation, Observing, phenology, research, Robin, seasons, Small Tortoiseshell, spring, Winter, Woodlark
I have recorded the first emergence of Daffodil on 16 occasions and this year’s flowering is one of the earlier dates, having witnessed a variety in flower on 2nd January 2012. My range of dates covers the 1st December through to the 2nd March with the mean being 29th January.
Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) courtesy of Natural History Museum
Daffodil – Narcissus (plant)
Daffodils come in a variety of shapes and sizes and colours. The parts of the flower known as the perianth and corona can differ in colouration or equally contain the same pigments. They bloom in a variety of yellows, whites, oranges, pinks, reds or even greens.
Known by various vernacular names such as Daffys, Lent Lily’s, Easter lily’s, the true Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) often flowers between the months of March and April. Because of this, they are often associated with Mothering Sunday and Palm Sunday. I personally, have records of the Wild Daffodil in bloom on an average date of 9th March and there are particular woods in the United Kingdom where only the wild variety grow. However, these places are getting rarer, due to the destruction of their ancient woodland sites. Dependent on where you are located within the UK, some varieties of Narcissi bloom as early as late November.
Farmers and landowners once harvested wild Narcissuses to provide them with a welcome additional income. As with others in the plant kingdom, there have been occasions of poisoning where children had mistakenly eaten Daffodil bulbs, believing them to be onions.
Posted in Environmental, my calendar, news, phenology
Tagged climate change, daffodil, Flower, gardening, gardens, phenology, research, spring